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Earth Could Reach Critical Climate Threshold in a Decade, Scientists Warn
by Nadia Prupis
Speaking at a University of Oxford conference this week, led by leading UK climate researcher Richard Betts, scientists said global greenhouse gas emissions are not likely to slow down quickly enough to avoid passing the 1.5°C target.
The goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C was agreed to in the landmark Paris agreement negotiated by 195 nations last year.
But the planet is continuing to experience unprecedented heat month after month, setting 2016 on track to be the hottest year ever recorded. In fact, the scientists said, Earth is currently on a trajectory to hit at least 2.7°C in global temperature rise.
Pete Smith, a plant and soil scientist at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, said mass lifestyle change must be undertaken to combat rising temperatures, such as developing more sustainable diets, reducing food waste and red meat intake, and importing fewer greenhouse gas-heavy vegetables.
"There are lots of behavioral changes required, not just by the government ... but by us," he said. He also warned that controversial geoengineering techniques such as sunlight blocking could become the norm in some countries.
The warning came the same day that Oil Change International released a report that found we have 17 years left to get off fossil fuels, or else face unprecedented and irreversible climate catastrophe.
Yet more bad news also emerged Thursday as a new study published in the journal Science found that the Earth is soaking up carbon at a far slower rate than previously estimated—which could mean a massive setback for environmental efforts.
Once considered a vital weapon in the fight against climate change, the soil, which traps carbon that would ordinarily be released into the atmosphere, has now been found to take a much longer time to absorb carbon than scientists believed—which means its potential for carbon sequestration this century "may only be half of what we thought it was," the Washington Post explains.
As Jim Hall, director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford, put it at the conference, "We need to get ready to deal with surprise."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jessica Corbett
A week after construction was scheduled to resume on a long-delayed $1.4 billion telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea — a dormant volcano on Hawaii's Big Island — thousands of Native Hawaiians who consider the mountain sacred continued to protest the planned observatory.
The statistics around threatened species are looking grim. A new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has added more than 9,000 new additions to its Red List of threatened species, pushing the total number of species on the list to more than 105,000 for the first time, according to the Guardian.
By Kristy Dahl
Last week, UCS released Killer Heat, a report analyzing how the frequency of days with a dangerously hot heat index — the combination of temperature and humidity the National Weather Service calls the "feels like" temperature — will change in response to the global emissions choices we make in the coming decades.
Green is the new black at Zara.
The Spanish fast fashion behemoth has made a bold move to steer its industry to a more environmentally friendly future for textiles. Inditex, Zara's parent company, announced that all the polyester, cotton and linen it uses will be sustainably produced by 2025, as CNN reported.